Kurzweil and Kelly kinetics

Folks with more wit will undoubtedly contribute more than this link post, but I’m passing along just a snippet I spotted in Kurzweil’s assertion regarding upcoming machines.

As Kurzweil seeks to clarify his singularity meme with Kevin Kelly:

… “a chimp’s hand looks similar but the pivot point of the thumb does not allow facile manipulation of the environment. In contrast, our human ability to look inside the human brain and to model and simulate and recreate the processes we encounter there has already been demonstrated. The scale and resolution of these simulations will continue to expand exponentially. I make the case that we will reverse-engineer the principles of operation of the several hundred information processing regions of the human brain within about twenty years and then apply these principles (along with the extensive tool kit we are creating through other means in the AI field) to computers that will be many times (by the 2040s, billions of times) more powerful than needed to simulate the human brain.

Of course, any of these new computing products on our store shelves will only arrive as we continue to reverse engineer the [our] human brain! Not to worry though. Kurzweil helps assure our prospects by pointing out “the complexity of the design of the human brain is about a billion times simpler than the actual complexity we find in the brain.

Thanks to Preoccupations for grabbing these links:

  • Kevin Kelly — The Technium
    Kevin Kelly’s essay on Ray Kurzweil’s ‘The Singularity Is Near’
  • KurzweilAI.net: Response to ‘The Singularity Is Always Near’
    “In “The Singularity Is Always Near,” an essay in The Technium, an online “book in progress,” author Kevin Kelly critiques arguments on exponential growth made in Ray Kurzweil’s book, The Singularity Is Near. Kurzweil responds.”

The decline of the PC

Mobility will fundamentally change the Internet 2007 to 2010, from the PC scale, which is in the millions, to mobile scale, which is in the billions… zengestrom.com: Nokia World – CTO keynote

Mobile devices will outsell laptops in 2007.
They’ll replace the whole installed base of the PC market in 5 years.

Coal Mining Causing Earthquakes

The most damaging earthquake in Australia’s history was caused by humans, new research says.

That 1989 quake was triggered by changes in tectonic forces caused by 200 years of underground coal mining.

The removal of millions of tons of coal from the area caused much of the stress. A more significant cause was groundwater pumping needed to keep the mines from flooding. For each ton of coal produced, 4.3 times more water was extracted – sometimes as much as 150 tons of water removed for each ton of coal produced.

The quake wasn’t enormous, but Australia isn’t generally considered to be seismically active and the city’s buildings weren’t designed to withstand a temblor of that magnitude.

The monetary damage done by the earthquake exceeded the total value of the coal extracted in the area.

Ban the baby talk

It appears little ones aren’t so big on goo-goo, ga-ga. A study led by York University psychology professor Maria Legerstee found infants between one and three months old develop more rapidly when adults refrain from imitating their baby talk and socialize with them instead.

Using digital cameras to capture infant-caregiver interactions, researchers found babies were more responsive, recognized their mothers quicker when they were taking turns vocalizing and sharing emotions rather than being imitated. http://www.thestar.com/News/article/167734

internetenet – tenet for the internet:

It is clear that the largest explosion in human history is commencing now and it is the explosion in the use of the spectrum.

Those who celebrate greatness in existing media today will be the curiosity of history tomorrow.

Those who believe to be in control of the new fingerprint of media, the territory of new culture and idiom, are in fact more vulnerable than ever before.

The spectrum may be a new and tangible territory that shall not give easily to tyranny.

Promoting action to manage information and its utility. This post is taken from my policy presentations at a 1980’s ‘conference on the future’ at the College of Marin, California. I was a director of a 501(c)3 called Community Renewal Inc. operating a short time under a charter to assist California community leaders including infrastructure and development trends under the information utility mandate. Much work remains….

“Instead of measuring quantity, we have to measure quality. And only when we do that will the true value of these new media be unlocked for everyone.” Jeff Jarvis

“People will acknowledge as just or fair only a social order that they themselves help to define.” Polsky, ’83 Democracy (winter)

“Local initiatives should have substantial content and communities should plan investments and administer services . Services in which would reassert the importance of places so people could rise with their communities not in spite of them.” Lockout, ’83 Democracy (winter)

The new Democracy: Decide to network

Decide to network
Use every letter you write.
Every conversation you have.
Every meeting you attend
To express your fundamental beliefs & dreams.
Affirm to others the vision of the world you want
Network through thought
Network through action
Network through love
Network through spirit
You are the center of the world
You are a free, immensely powerful resource of life and goodness
Affirm it
Spread it Radiate it
Think days and night about it
And you will see a miracle happen;
The greatness of your own life
In a world of big power, media and monopolies
But of four and a half billion individuals
Networking is the new freedom
The new Democracy
A new form of Happiness.

Robert Muller, Assistant Secretary General, United Nations
“Most of All, They Taught Me Happiness”
The New Genesis
Bk: Networking, The First Report and Directory, Lipnock, Stamps

What’s the right amount of testosterone?

Women seem to judge potential mates by how masculine their features are, new research shows. Men with square jaws and well-defined brow ridges are seen as good short-term partners, while those with more feminine traits such as a rounder face and fuller lips are perceived as better long-term mates.

…masculine features were likely to be risky and competitive and also more apt to fight, challenge bosses, cheat on spouses and put less effort into parenting. Those with more feminine faces were seen as good parents and husbands, hard workers and emotionally supportive mates.

What are women looking for and evaluating?

Testosterone, the hormone responsible for development of masculine facial features and other secondary sexual characteristics.

Testosterone is necessary for development, but can also have detrimental effects. Increased testosterone has also been linked to male cheating and violence in relationships, so while these men might produce high quality offspring, they don’t always make great parents or faithful mates…

If only dominance were useful

Once upon a time there were people with an inquisitive mind. Bewildered by the immensity of the universe, they sat under a tree, observed and tried to understand the laws of life and came with some answers. They were alone, but their contribution to science was invaluable.

Many years later these people could not believe their luck, as they were allowed to gather together in institutes and universities and share their information. In some countries even the government was interested in their discoveries and provided funding for their work. No questions were asked, total trust was given as was belief in their creative capacities. A boom in science, innovative ideas followed, together with huge numbers of meaningful scientific publications and technical developments.

Scared by their success, politicians decided to keep scientist under control. Their work was carefully scrutinised. Unhealthy competition and a lack of trust started then to creep into these institutions. Scientists were made to evaluate each other’s work and competition for money, ideas and publications poisoned scientific relationships.

But this was not enough.

International Year of the Potato

2008 is the International Year of the Potato and the potato is going global.

Until the early 1990s, most potatoes were grown and consumed in Europe, North America and countries of the former Soviet Union. Since then, there has been a dramatic increase in potato production and demand in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where output rose from less than 30 million tons in the early 1960s to almost 120 million tonnes by the mid-1990s.

FAO data shows that in 2005, for the first time, the developing world’s potato production – some 162 million tons – exceeded that of the developed world (156 million tons). China is now the biggest potato producer, and almost a third of all potatoes is harvested in China and India. [Potato World Facts]

Metafilter posted a few links on behalf of the humble potato: Why now? Because the potato is delicious, easy to grow, and fun for all ages.

Pachamama, blessing the purple potatoOver many many generations, Peru and its Andean neighbors are the potato’s center of diversity — with nearly 4,000 unique varieties. Diverse indigineous strains of potatoes are under attack by multinational agritech companies. However, farmers, gardeners and the USDA are trying to preserve the potato’s diversity.

Andy Griffin of California’s robust Mariquita Farm cultivates a number of rare potato. His description of the special nature of the Andes plateau truly points to how the potato evolved.

Dawn in the Andes can be icy, but by mid-morning the sun may be hot on your back. After sundown the temperatures drop again, until your hands and feet are numb. The Andean Altiplano is a landlocked depression lying between the eastern and western ranges of the Cordillera, and it slopes from around 9,000 feet above sea-level in Peru to around 13,000 feet in Bolivia. Altiplano means “high plains,” but the Altiplano is not nearly as flat as its name implies.

The atmosphere on the Altiplano is thin and the air is dry. The sky overhead is deep blue by day, and by night it is jet black and sparkles with majestic drifts of stars. When I visited Bolivia I was impressed by the snowy peaks that surrounded me, but outer space seemed infinitely deep— and very close. I went out star gazing at night and felt dizzy, as if I was more in danger of falling off the planet than of tumbling down the mountains.

The daily extremes of temperatures in the Andes have prompted a number of different plant species there to evolve tuberous habits. A tuber is a swollen, underground stem that stores up energy so that if a “killing frost” burns off all the foliage above the ground, the plant still has enough life protected under an insulating mantel of soil to sprout again. The concentrated sugars and starches found in tubers have made a number of tuberous Andean plants important food crops for people.

The sweet potato, for example, is a tuberous morning glory from Peru that’s now cultivated all over the world. There’s also a tuberous oxalis, called oca, that is a common food on the Altiplano, and of course everyone is familiar with the tuberous plant from the nightshade family known as the potato.

Corporate threat to biodiversity
‘Terminator technology’ is a genetic- modification process that could be used to stop potatoes from sprouting unless a chemical is applied. Farmers are concerned that terminator potatoes will enter the Andean production system and destroy their traditions of storing and exchanging potato tubers for future planting.

In an open letter, 34 indigenous communities in Peru are declaring that terminator potatoes are “deeply offensive”. The Indigenous Coalition Against Biopiracy in the Andes says that by commercializing such potatoes, the Syngenta corporation would threaten potato varieties that form the basis of livelihoods and culture for millions of poor people. Terminator technology refers to genetic modifications that ‘switch off’ seed fertility, and can therefore prevent farmers from using, storing and sharing seeds and storage organs such as potato tubers.

In fairness to genetic researchers and emergent companies in this field, Syngenta’s website states that: “Syngenta and its predecessor companies have a long-standing policy not to use the so-called ‘terminator’ technology to prevent seed germination.” It defines terminator technology as “a hypothetical process”….

The pinnacle potato
Hungry in Hogtown is recommending the Horse Fat French Fry.

horse fat french fries“We can all agree on the fundamentals of a great french fry: a crunchy exterior, lots of salt, and a rich taste without greasiness. The only aspect of the fry that triggers debate is the proper texture of the interior, which is really a debate over which kind of potato — baking or boiling — to use in the first place.

“Jeffrey Steingarten, in his brilliant piece on horse fat french fries, observes that North Americans tend to prefer their interiors fluffy, whereas Europeans prefer them creamy. There’s no argument that the soft flesh of the fry should act as a contrast to the crispy shell. Now, visit your local McDonald’s and order some fries. They conform perfectly to this ideal.

“The key to producing a french fry that meets this standard can be distilled to one critical factor: moisture, or, really, the lack thereof. Whatever the process, all great fry recipes, knowingly or otherwise, are really about dehydrating potatoes.

“The potato that is first harvested in the field is roughly eighty per cent water,” explains Malcolm Gladwell about the science behind McDonald’s fries. “The process of creating a French fry consists, essentially, of removing as much of that water as possible–through blanching, drying, and deep-frying–and replacing it with fat.”

aeroponic potato growingGrowing potatoes in mid-air, in a new technique called aeroponics, is showing great promise. The tubers, grow suspended in the air.<br
The frames are covered with black plastic to keep out the light and the plants are sprayed with a solution of nutrients to allow them to grow.

The International Potato Center is using aeroponics to reduce the cost of producing seed potatoes.

Money is a dangerous thing

money trap flagMoney generally binds your hands. It gives you less power instead of more. It diminishes your love; it reduces your benevolence and your will to do and to give. The richer you get, the poorer you become; not only spiritually, toward God, but often in actual fact here and now. When you had but one dollar in the world, how readily you gave half of it or all of it to some work of love, some brother in need! When you had ten dollars you could still part with two or three gladly. But you got a hundred, and thought you were wonderfully liberal when you handed out ten; and when it was a thousand, you considered fifty a great amount to give; and when you had ten thousand you gave a hundred and felt like a saint over it. So as money increased your gifts decreased; from a hundred per cent and fifty per cent you dropped down to twenty, from twenty to ten, then to five, then to one per cent. Tell me, why does a man do that? Is it not that money appeals to the accumulative instinct and possession stimulates the desire to possess? And this becomes a parasite vine that twines around the tree and sucks its sap and smothers its life until some spring, when all the trees are budding, the vine clad victim’s branches remain dry and bare. So is the heart that is accursed with the love of money.

Robert H. Boll
Truth and Grace (1917)

To lure us lovingly to fuller powers

One day turns into another;
Orb upon orb spin out the years.
We sometimes reflect such poise.
Sometimes not.

Yet when the self can loft the mind
and hence
the mind does wire the body
in some mimic’d perfection,
it is as if
all that is
spills upon us
pouring what’s best
to test our courages.

Yet we all know this,
as we know what hardens steel
or vigors the child in solitary task.
It’s just so seldom said,
these stories of the heart.

What better moment than now, another year,
to challenge the coming murmurs of each new day?

Here’s to recognizing
amidst the blinding dark infinity
the sweet triumph
of every step we carve
from this froth of earth.

Here’s to some discovery amongst our paths.

Here’s to worthy dreams to lure us lovingly to fuller powers.

May we be of sharp wit,
with diligence of will,
until every fire succumb as ally
and every flood seek our buoyancy.

May we, as if a star,
use our hope to breathe,
our deed as rhythm,
our purpose unmoved,
quick in our calm heart.

May Peace commence our every journey.
May Joy touch deep.

Abuse, Neglect Tied to Depression

Child abuse and neglect were associated with a 51 percent increased risk for current major depression in young adulthood. Children who were physically abused had a 59 percent increased risk of lifetime major depression. Those who experienced multiple types of abuse had a 75 percent increased risk of lifetime major depression. The risk of current major depression was 59 percent higher for those who were neglected. Science blog